The other day on “Philadelphia” the removal of head coach Doc Rivers was officially announced. His team, which finished third in the regular season, was eliminated from the playoffs before reaching the Eastern Conference Finals. But with the renewed trend in the NBA to fire coaches, Rivers has nothing to lose.
Rivers took over Philadelphia in 2020 after the Brett Brown-led team beat Boston 4-0 in the first round of the playoffs.
Thanks for bringing back 2020. Boston advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals
At the end of three seasons under Doc, the Sixers were 154-82 (65.2%), including 54 wins in the current championship. With him, Joel Embiid became the league’s top scorer for the second time in a row, and also finally received the coveted MVP award.
That’s right after Rivers’ designation, the team never made it past the second round of the playoffs. The year before last, they lost to Atlanta in seven games, last year they lost to Miami in six. This time, Phil began the postseason with a strong punt in the first stage against Brooklyn, but lost 3-4 to the Celtics in the Eastern semifinals, winning 3-2 in five games.
Doc Rivers and Jason Tatum
Photo: Adam Glanzman/Getty Images
Rivers’ fate in Philadelphia, in fact, was decided after 60 minutes of play. In Game 6 with Boston, his team lost the fourth quarter 13:24, allowing Tatum, who hadn’t made a shot in the previous half, to hit some big 3-pointers. At the same time, the Sixers missed 15 of their 20 attempts, including all eight from behind the arc. James Harden didn’t appear to be on the court, and Embiid hadn’t even touched the ball in the last few minutes.
Well, the deciding game of the series turned into a real disaster thanks to Tatum himself, who scored a record 51 points for Game 7, 15 more than the entire Sixers team in the second half. Now Boston is playing Miami in the conference finals, but Rivers is looking for a new job.
Here is 3%. “Miami” passed over “Boston” in the third quarter and won the game
According to Daryl Morey, Phila’s president of basketball operations, his firing surprised Embiid. He was on great terms with Rivers, and now Maury will have to “convince” Joel that he will work with the next Sixers coach.
And while Embiid is in a state of confusion, the team’s second star, James Harden, is already rubbing his hands in anticipation of a four-year deal. He, unlike his partner, had no relationship with Rivers. Rumor had it that Beard didn’t want to play him anymore, so the board had to choose between the two. And now, when it is already known who was chosen, it is worth talking about contracts. Harden is expected to forfeit a $35.6 million player option to secure a four-year free agent offer. Although the Sixers have not yet begun negotiations with him, Mori has said that keeping the player is his plan A.
So what about the rivers? He himself seems to be interested in continuing as a coach in the NBA. But not everyone is sure if it will work. Someone blames everything on Harden and Embiid, someone on the contrary is already sending Rivers to the Taiwan Championship. And no wonder: Since he won the trophy with Boston in 2008, Doc’s teams have lost ten games in Game 7 of the playoffs. This is the worst result in NBA history and double that of his closest rival Pat Riley.
Yes, and Rivers, it seems, knew in advance what awaits him in Philadelphia after the defeat of the former team.
“When I talk to the coaches in the summer, young coaches, I tell them one thing: we signed up for this and it is part of our profession. This is the worst part of our job, but there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s always easier to replace a coach,” Doc said just two days before he was fired.
And this logic, apparently, is guided not only by Philadelphia. In Milwaukee, for example, after a sensational exit from Miami in the first round of the playoffs, they got rid of Mike Budenholzer, with whom he was proclaimed NBA champion two years ago. At Phoenix, the personnel changes came on the heels of a second-round loss to Denver, thanks to new team owner Matt Ishbia for this. It was he who made the decision to fire Monty Williams, who led the Suns to the NBA Finals in 2021. Williams, by the way, is also a longtime friend and former teammate of Rivers.
Mike Budenholzer fired from Milwaukee. Who will replace him as head coach?
“Just look at what has happened in the last two weeks. Budenholzer has a 69.3% win rate, won the title two years ago, and is unemployed. Monty, in my opinion, changed the entire Suns franchise. Forget the training component. Monty completely changed the franchise for him, which was a joke. I don’t know what he should have done. They made a deal that I think will pay off in the long run, but not in the short run (we’re talking about the Kevin Durant trade. – Approx. “Championship”). And Monty was blamed for it,” Doc said.
Interestingly, it’s Milwaukee and Phoenix that are being named as the most likely career paths for Rivers. After the news broke about his firing, The Athletic pundit Joe Vardon spoke with three anonymous NBA officials: two from the Western Conference and one from the Eastern Conference. One of them pointed to the plight of the Suns, while the other coach thought Rivers would become a candidate for the Bucks’ head coach job.
It’s possible that in the near future we’ll see something of a coaching swap between these three teams: Williams will replace Budenholzer in Milwaukee, he’ll replace Rivers in Philadelphia, and Doc himself will go to Phoenix. Well, or something like that. But if that doesn’t happen, there are other possible scenarios for Rivers.
Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
Other options include the Pistons, who finished this season with a record of 17-65, the second-best record in franchise history. According to rumors, their head coach, Duane Casey, will step down next season and join the team’s management. But Detroit was only fifth in the draft lottery and won’t get Victor Vembanyama or Scoot Henderson. So hopes for a major overhaul will have to be put on hold for now, but that doesn’t mean Rivers isn’t willing to wait a bit. In addition, the Pistons already have two talented players included in the second symbolic five of the season’s newcomers: Jayden Ivey and Jaylen Duren.
Another team where the head coaching job remains open is Toronto. They fired Nick Nurse, the 2020 Coach of the Year, under whose leadership the Raptors and Kawhi Leonard won the first trophy in franchise history. After that, the team never got past the second round of the playoffs, and this year they flew from Chicago at the first stage of the play-in and decided to say goodbye to the specialist. Here’s a “but”: Toronto’s near future isn’t easy. Gary Trent Jr. and Fred Vanvliet could become unrestricted free agents this summer, while OJ Anunobi and Pascal Siakam could be the final year of their contracts.
Whether either of these teams would be willing to accept Rivers remains to be seen. He himself seems to be in no hurry to make a decision to make the right choice. And for the sake of justice, the specialist still has plenty of time for this. So, as they say, kamon, let’s go!